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Wolfenstein, E.V. (1997). Discussion: Cynthia Burack. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(3):369-374.

(1997). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(3):369-374

Discussion: Cynthia Burack Related Papers

E. Victor Wolfenstein, Ph.D.

I'd like to suggest three topics for discussion: the psychological relationship between individuals and groups; the distinction between psychological groups and cultural collectivities; and some of the problems involved in using group psychology as a medium for interpreting black feminist theory and practice.

Probably I should preface my contribution to the discussion with a brief comment on my own experience with the issues of race, gender, and psychoanalytic group psychology. In The Victims of Democracy: Malcolm X and the Black Revolution (1981) I used a combination of class analysis and group psychology to theorize white racism, internalized white racism, and the black liberation struggle. I placed Malcolm's life history within the history of the liberation struggle; and, in parallel fashion, I analyzed the evolution of his personality within the conceptual field generated through class-group analysis. I especially focused on social movements and the role played in them by what I termed charismatic group-emotion. And I was concerned to articulate and employ standards by which to judge progressive and regressive development, both for Malcolm as an individual and for the social movements which impinged upon him and in which he actively participated. But I did not explicitly focus on the functions of group leadership. Hence I find Cynthia Burack's discussion of these functions especially interesting, and have been stimulated to think about Malcolm's participation in the struggle from the perspective she develops.

Malcolm's approach to black liberation was strongly masculinist, as was the protorevolutionary movement that followed his death.

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